Dubito ergo sum

We indeed recognize in ourselves the image of God, that is, of the supreme Trinity. For we both are, and know that we are, and delight in our being, and our knowledge of it. Moreover, in these three things no true-seeming illusion disturbs us.

Without any delusive representation of images or phantasms, I am most certain that I am, and that I know and delight in this. In respect of these truths, I am not at all afraid of the arguments of the Academicians, who say, What if you are deceived? For if I am deceived, I am. For he who is not, cannot be deceived; and if I am deceived, by this same token I am. And since I am if I am deceived, how am I deceived in believing that I am? For it is certain that I am if I am deceived. Since, therefore, I, the person deceived, should be, even if I were deceived, certainly I am not deceived in this knowledge that I am. And, consequently, neither am I deceived in knowing that I know. For, as I know that I am, so I know this also, that I know.

St. Augustine – Of the Image of the Supreme Trinity in Human Nature. The City of God XI, 26

The Year of the Monkey

If it is something which is not in any relation to all things known, such existence can not be established by any reasoning. How do we know that something, which is not associated with other things, exists at all? The whole universe, such as we know it, is a system of relationships; we do not know anything that could not be related. How can that, which is not dependent on anything and not related to anything, form items related to each other and dependent on each other in its existence?

Is either unity or multiplicity. If there is one, how it can cause a variety of things that come from different causes? If they are as many as there are things, how can the latter be related to each other? If it permeates everything and fills the entire space, it can not create them, because there would be nothing to be created.

If deprived of all properties; all the things that arise, should also be free of all properties. So it can not be their cause. If it is different from the properties, how it still creates things having these properties and manifests itself in them?

If it is invariable, all this should also be invariable, as a result can not vary in its nature with the cause. But all the things of the world are subject to changes and decomposition. How, how can it therefore be invariable?

If created the world, there would be no changes or destruction, there should also be no sorrow or unhappiness, right and wrong, given that anything both pure and impure, would have to come from somewhere. If sadness and joy, love and hatred arise in all sentient beings, then he should be able to feel sadness and joy, love and hate, and if it has this ability, how can we say that it is perfect?

If it was the creator, and all beings would have to be its silent followers, how would it be useful to practice virtue? If all deeds are its formation, they must be the same as their perpetrator’s. But if grief and suffering is attributed to another cause, in that case there is something that it is not the cause of. Why, then, would not be without a cause all that there is?

If there is the creator, it works with some purpose or no purpose. If it works with some purpose, you can not say that it is perfect, because the purpose necessarily implies satisfying a want. If it works without the purpose, it is similar to a madman or an infant.

Aśvaghoṣa – Buddhacarita

Man is the Measure of All Things

The truth is as I have written, and that each of us is a measure of existence and of non-existence. Yet one man may be a thousand times better than another in proportion as different things are and appear to him.

And I am far from saying that wisdom and the wise man have no existence; but I say that the wise man is he who makes the evils which appear and are to a man, into goods which are and appear to him. The sophist accomplishes by words the change which the physician works by the aid of drugs. Not that any one ever made another think truly, who previously thought falsely. For no one can think what is not, or think anything different from that which he feels; and this is always true.

But as the inferior habit of mind has thoughts of kindred nature, so I conceive that a good mind causes men to have good thoughts; and these which the inexperienced call true, I maintain to be only better, and not truer than others. And so one man is wiser than another; and no one thinks falsely, and you, whether you will or not, must endure to be a measure. On these foundations the argument stands firm.

Plato – Theaetetus

Collective Solipsism

Winston shrank back upon the bed. Whatever he said, the swift answer crushed him like a bludgeon. And yet he knew, he knew, that he was in the right. The belief that nothing exists outside your own mind — surely there must be some way of demonstrating that it was false? Had it not been exposed long ago as a fallacy? There was even a name for it, which he had forgotten. A faint smile twitched the corners of O’Brien’s mouth as he looked down at him.

I told you, Winston, that metaphysics is not your strong point. The word you are trying to think of is solipsism. But you are mistaken. This is not solipsism. Collective solipsism, if you like. But that is a different thing: in fact, the opposite thing. All this is a digression. The real power, the power we have to fight for night and day, is not power over things, but over men.

George Orwell – 1984

Temptation for Immortality

All things in nature have an end; the most beautiful and perfect are the most frail, over which lament philosophers and poets. Why the man was supposed to be different? But why it could not be different?

Feelings and thoughts not only differ from what we call dead matter, but they are diametrically opposite. Conclusions with regards to the spirit, based on an analogy with the matter, have very little or no value. All matter, detached from the experience of sentient beings, has merely hypothetical and non-substantial existence; it is only conjecture to explain our feelings. The spirit, from a philosophical stance, is the only reality that we can prove, and between it and other realities no analogy can be found.

John Stuart Mill – Essays on Religion

Unnum

I have read many writings both of heathen philosophers and inspired prophets, ancient and modern, and have sought earnestly to discover what is the best and highest quality whereby man may approach most nearly to union with God, and whereby he may most resemble the ideal of himself which existed in God, before God created men.

And after having thoroughly searched these writings as far as my reason may penetrate, I find no higher quality than sanctification or separation from all creatures. Therefore said our Lord to Martha, “One thing is necessary,” as if to say, “whoso wishes to be untroubled and content, must have one thing, that is sanctification.”

Meister Eckhart – Sanctification


Luke 10,38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.